Hessayon retires while Titchmarsh has a dream

Veteran garden journalist Dr David Hessayon announced his retirement at last week's Garden Media Guild Awards, while Alan Titchmarsh took the opportunity to call the industry to arms. 

Hessayon made his announcement after presenting Alys Fowler with the garden writer of the year award.

He told the audience that the 'how to do it' book had lost it's absolute supremacy: "Five years ago all the 15 in the bestselling gardening books were how to do it books. Now it's anything on botany or Latin, or look at my garden, or look at other people's gardens."

He said to make a bestseller writers should choose something "you can't look up on Google", adding: "Do you have to be a celebrity to write garden books? In the cooking world, by God it helps." But he said that the Expert series - Hessayon has sold 54m books since the first in 1958 - show "you can be invisible and still be number one."

He added: "Experts will continue and a new one will appear regularly but I'm 85 and someone who won't use ghostwriters. I'm putting my pen away. Retirement is now looming. Certainly it's about time.

"You should give up while you still remember what your name is. I'm not bored yet but if I can't do a book from start to finish including all the designing and writing I don't want to do one at all."

Titchmarsh, presenting the new talent award to Nick Turrell, said: "We need to work together rather than in isolated groups. It's important ..for the well being of the planet."

He added: "It's my 50th year gardening professionally, which for me is quite special. Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' 50 years ago. I too have a dream that the Garden Media Guild awards should be about more than self congratulation.

"One grower said to me recently there's a disconnect between media and the gardening industry that needs to be repaired. It's not in our interest to operate in isolation when the only people we want to impress is ourselves.

"I have a dream that one day people will come to their senses and far from [gardeners] being deemed unfit and lacking intelligence to do other jobs, professional gardening as a career will be worth more than a passing glance and people will pursue gardening as career worthy of far greater respect and gratitude.

"It's up to us to go out and prove our case and work together for the greater good not in isolated bubbles."

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